BOISE -- Our annual 7CARES Day is right around the corner, December 10th to be specific. That day will be here before we know it.
Thanks to the generosity of thousands of Idahoans, in the last two years alone, four organizations have received more than $100,000 and 140,000 pounds of food.
The Salvation Army is one of those organizations on the receiving end, using that money and food to help Idahoans in need.
It's 7 a.m. and time for DeAnna Board and her 4-month-old son Kaleb to get ready for the day.
"Hi, we're going to have a good day today huh? Yes we are," said Board in a cooing voice.
For this single mom, this day is just like every other.
"Okay, Kaleb, it's bath time," said Board as she undressed her son and placed him in a plastic bathtub filled with warm water.
After a little scrubbing and crying, DeAnna lifts Kaleb from the tub, water still dripping down from his toes. Even though he is mostly dry, there are still no smiles from the little boy wrapped in the orange hooded towel.
"I'm going to inch worm it," said Board, as she slipped a onesie with the words "All star" on the front on her young son.
Now that he’s dressed, DeAnna feeds Kaleb a bottle. With Kaleb occupied, she opens up.
"He is my everything,” she said. “He is my miracle. He saved my life, he's perfect.”
Eight months ago DeAnna didn't like where she was in her life.
"I was in a very dark place mentally,” Board said. “I was suicidal. I had gone back to my cutting days.”
An unexpected pregnancy brought unexpected hope.
"I wouldn't be here without him,” she said with emotion in her voice. “He gave me independence, he gave me responsibility. He taught me how to love again. I didn't love anything."
It also brought an unexpected opportunity. DeAnna and Kaleb's home isn't what you might think.
"This place is a miracle," said Board as she referred to her room at the Salvation Army’s Family Emergency Shelter in Boise. The shelter has 14 rooms for families and two rooms for single women.
"We're one of the few shelters that keep families intact," said Jenifer Grout, a Salvation Army employee who works with women like DeAnna.
"There was a tremendous amount of growth, from the first time I met with DeAnna in March to now,” said Grout. “I mean it is like day and night.”
But a warm room and a bed isn’t all the help she is receiving.
From her room on the second floor, she walks down a few stairs and grabs a brown bag filled with a morning snack. From there she walks out a door and down a path, turns left and is at the entrance for the Salvation Army day care where she drops off Kaleb for the day.
"It's really easy being able to just go from one building to the other," said Board.
From there, she's off to school, again just a short walk to the adjacent building.
"I dropped out numerous times," Board explained as to why at 20 years old she is still in school. She is not getting a GED, but actually finishing her high school degree.
"I really love to write,” she said. “I love to write. It's my main thing.” She's using that love to document her days at Marian Pritchett.
"It's really a great place. I am really blessed to be here," said Board.
The Salvation Army also has a family services center to assist people who need help with bills, clothes, gas for their cars and food. Using volunteers like Wendy Wong.
"It's tough for a lot of people out there right now," said Wong.
People just like Christina Blackman agree.
"It's been a really rough month,” Blackman said. “I've lost my job, and it's reassuring that there's people out there that do help.”
She came in to the Salvation Army Family Services Center looking for help on her gas bill.
"I am walking out with a great feeling of happiness, joy I guess,” Blackman said. “The Salvation Army ended up helping me with a lot more than I expected.”
She now has help with her electricity bill. She now has a food box with a turkey for Thanksgiving. And she will soon have Christmas toys for her 10-year-old daughter.
"It's really rough. It breaks your heart," said Blackman as she found out how much help she received.
Each of those services is made possible because of volunteers like George Voller who helps in the food pantry.
"It's just like shopping in a convenience store, except we don't have a cash register," said Voller.
"We need people to help us help them. People to give us, not just funding, but their time. We need volunteers like the ladies out front," said Lillian Hubbell who has helped Idahoans in need for the last 17 years.
"So give a man a fish, feed him for a week, teach him how to fish,” began Scott Evans. “Feed him for a lifetime, yeah,” finished Hubbell. “And that's pretty much what we try to do all the time.”
And that's the message that Blackman is getting during her first experience asking for help.
"A great blessing,” she said. “Something I definitely wouldn't expect, and couldn't ask for more.”
And a message that DeAnna is getting as well. "It's giving me the building blocks of life," she said. A life that has been hard, but holds a future that is brighter than her dark past, a future with Kaleb, the love of her life.
"He's everything to me. Huh buddy?” she said looking down into her infant’s eyes. “I wouldn't trade him for anything in the world."
From the Family Services, to the food pantry, to the shelter, to the thrift store, the Salvation Army helps tens of thousands of people like DeAnna Board and Christina Blackman every year.